Sportsman from the Fens helps Great Britain squad take on European’s finest

Goalball: Photo l-r: Matt Loftus, Caleb Nanevie, Josh McEntee, Dan Roper, David Butler

Goalball: Photo l-r: Matt Loftus, Caleb Nanevie, Josh McEntee, Dan Roper, David Butler - Credit: Archant

March resident Dan Roper joined the GB Goalball squad as they took on Europe’s best at the Middle European Goalball League (MEGL) tournament.

Goalball: Photo, Caleb Nanevie

Goalball: Photo, Caleb Nanevie - Credit: Archant

Dan, who is visually impaired and founded local team the Fen Tigers, joined the national team in Slovenia.

Currently 23rd in the world, the men’s GB Goalball team were pitted against tough competition from professional teams: Hungary, Montenegro, Slovenia and Israel.

The GB team, which receives no government funding, beat Israel and Hungary and narrowly lost the remaining games. They are now third in the overall MEGL standings and will play the final leg of the tournament in Budapest in June.

Dan said: “I’m really happy with my performance; it was great to end the tournament as a top 5 goal scorer.

Goalball: PhotoDan, Josh and Matt

Goalball: PhotoDan, Josh and Matt - Credit: Archant

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“The team performed really well, especially against Israel who pushed us hard. We’re now setting our sights firmly on gaining promotion back into Europe’s A tier at the European B championships in Poland in September.”

Coach Faye Dale said: “Finishing in the top half of the table has given us a renewed confidence moving forward. The MEGL tournament was also important as it allowed us to compete against high level teams, work out game plans and gain an invaluable insight into what we will face at the Euro B’s.

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The GB team welcome sponsorship and individual donations to help support their training. Please email if you would like to support the squad.

Goalball, originally devised as a rehabilitation programme for blind and visually impaired soldiers returning from World War II, was one of the hits of London 2012 with crowds cramming into the Copper Box to support the men and women’s teams.

Since then, the sport has grown in popularity with eleven extra domestic tournaments being added to the calendar.

The positive impact that involvement in the sport has for visually impaired people is documented in the video on the Goalball UK website at:

Goalball is played by two teams of three players with a maximum of three substitutes on each team. The object of the game is to score a goal by bowling the ball along the floor so that it crosses the goal line for the opposing team.

It is open to both male and female visually impaired athletes, and sighted players can also play.

It has three main distinguishing features:

All players wear eyeshades so that they are totally blind

Goalball is played on an indoor court that is 18m long and 9m wide. The court has tactile markings (string that is taped to the floor), which helps players determine where they are

The ball contains internal bells, which help players locate it during play

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